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XFL 2023: Week 6 TV Ratings Rebound Big Back On ABC

The TV ratings are in for Week 6 of the 2023 XFL season, after four weeks of games airing exclusively on cable television. The XFL featured two games on ABC for the first time since the season’s opening week.

The XFL never encountered a Week 6 or March Madness three years ago. Let’s look at how all four of the XFL’s games fared in the ratings.

XFL 2023: Week 6 TV Ratings

Saturday afternoon’s game at 1 pm ET between the Orlando Guardians and Seattle Sea Dragons on ABC averaged 1,047 million viewers. The league’s highest rating since Week 1. The game was originally scheduled for ESPN but was bumped to ABC a few weeks back. Notably, the XFL telecast averaged a higher rating and more viewers than ABC’s NHL game Saturday night in primetime (922k). Also drew nearly four times the audience of MLS Saturday afternoon on FOX (266k).

Saturday evening’s XFL telecast at 7 pm ET on FX featuring the St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers averaged 371,000 viewers. The game was rated 21st out of the top 150 Cable TV shows in the 18-49 demographic. The XFL has been the second highest-rated program on FX since February.

Sunday’s 3 pm ET ABC game of the Arlington Renegades and San Antonio Brahmas averaged 753,000 viewers. The telecast faced stiff competition nationally and locally in Texas, with the Longhorns playing directly against the game in the NCAA Tournament. There were six USFL games on broadcast network television (FOX/NBC) that averaged fewer viewers than Sunday’s XFL game.

The final game of Week 6 took place Monday Night at 7 pm ET on ESPN2. The D.C. Defenders-Houston Roughnecks showing averaged 371,000 viewers. The game ranked 52nd out of the top 150 Cable TV shows.

TV Rating Analysis

Week 6’s TV rating results for the XFL on ABC didn’t match up to the numbers they produced in Week one. (1.6 million viewers on average). The dip in viewership from week one’s sample viewership is to be expected. However, the viewership numbers the XFL produced in Week 6 can only be seen as extremely positive.

Context is important in this discussion. And it’s been lacking in “credible” media coverage.

There is a significant difference in over-the-air broadcast network viewership versus cable. Media outlets have utilized false equivalency in their reports on the XFL ratings. Willfully ignoring things like multiple games ending at 2 am eastern on non-traditional sports cable outlets.

The dip from the opening week was bound to happen. But the lack of destination programming, created by oddly scheduled games on different dates, and the multi-week gap between network airings could have hurt the XFL. It didn’t.

Half the battle in finding an audience is having an audience know where to find you.

The most avid supporters of the XFL know where to find the games. But for the casual viewer, the league’s minimal promotion, and the lack of a network presence for several weeks, can help further enhance the common ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach casual viewers typically have toward these entities.

Perhaps more momentum can arrive in the coming weeks with March Madness out of the way. The Final Four does take place this coming Saturday.

The added playoff importance of XFL games later in the season could help. However, the XFL won’t be back on ABC until Week 8. They return to a full slate of cable TV games in Week 7 with a Friday night game on FX and two ESPN broadcasts.

The league has four remaining games on ABC this season, capping off with the XFL championship game on Saturday, May 13th, in primetime.

Ultimately, where the league finishes will be the measure of the XFL’s success in 2023. Although this is the third iteration of the XFL name, ultimately, in many ways, it’s an upstart encountering the same problems all first-year sports leagues encounter. But Week 6’s viewership numbers were a W for the XFL.

XFL Week 7 TV Schedule

Seattle Sea Dragons@Arlington RenegadesFriday, March 31
7:00 PM ET

ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
San Antonio Brahmas@Vegas VipersSaturday, April 1
3:00 PM ET
ESPN2 / ESPN+ / ESPN Deportes

ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
D.C. Defenders@Orlando GuardiansSaturday, April 1
6:00 PM ET

ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center
St. Louis Battlehawks@Houston RoughnecksSunday, April 2
2:00 PM ET

ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Find Tickets
XFL Game Center

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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